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Charlie Chaplin: City Lights [DVD]


Price: £19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Al Ernest Garcia, Hank Mann
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Whv
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Sep 2003
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AISJN
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,267 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

One of Chaplin's most highly acclaimed films, City Lights is both a classic and a personal statement in which the master of pantomime proves the eloquence of silence. Combining wonderful comedy in the finest Chaplin tradition and evocative drama, the Little Tramp falls in love with a beautiful, blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill). She believes he is wealthy and he, in turn, sets out to raise the money for the operation that could restore her sight. Through countless mishaps, a cycle of mistaken identities, and a lot of luck, he finally succeeds and the operation is a success.

The final scene, in which the girl discovers the true identity of her benefactor, is a poignant encounter that has been lauded as one of the most memorable and moving moments in film comedy.

From Amazon.co.uk

Made in 1931 shortly after the introduction of the talkies, Charlie Chaplin's City Lights is nonetheless near-silent. Chaplin was afraid that, should his universally known and beloved Tramp speak onscreen, he would be severely limited and compromised as a character. And so, City Lights is billed as "pantomime", a piece of cinema harking back to the manners and methods of an already defunct era.

Chaplin fell out of fashion towards the end of the 20th century as a new wave of comedians (Rowan Atkinson for one) castigated him for what they saw as his excessive, maudlin sentimentality. Certainly, City Lights--which sees Chaplin's Tramp befriended by a blind flower girl who mistakes him for a rich benefactor--is hokum indeed. Accepting this, however, what makes the film so marvellous is the deceptive skill and artistry of Chaplin the filmmaker, the immaculate timing and acrobatic grace of his seemingly slapstick comedy, in particular a justly famous boxing sequence. Chaplin's sparing use of sound is inventive also: the wordless waffle of public speakers in the opening scene and another in which the tramp swallows a whistle. Moreover, the conclusion, in which the dishevelled Tramp encounters again the flower girl, her eyesight restored is--sentimentality notwithstanding--one of the most moving and superbly executed scenes in cinema history, not least for its economy and restraint.

On the DVD: City Lights contains a generous package of extras on this two-disc set, including an introduction by David Robinson, in which he relates how poorly Chaplin and his leading lady Virginia Cherrill got on, an extended documentary/interview with Peter Lord (partner in animation to Nick Parks), who sings the praises of Chaplin's screen art, and a deleted scene, an immaculate piece of business involving a grate and a stick. There's a bonus in the form of an excerpt from 1915's The Champion, in which Chaplin prefigures the boxing scene from City Lights. Meanwhile, the "documents" section includes a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage, including a test screening for alternative actress Georgia Hale, rehearsal shots, chaotic scenes of Chaplin being mobbed in Vienna, a meeting with Winston Churchill and 1918 footage of Chaplin horsing around with famous boxers of the day including Benny Leonard. It also contains trailers, photo gallery and subtitles. On the first disc, the film's transfer to DVD is splendid. --David Stubbs

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By film fanaticisto on 13 Oct 2007
Format: DVD
Well what can i say about this film! It is so perfect.
All through the film Chaplin gives us laughs and tears sometimes in the space of 2 seconds. And the legendary ending which has been copied by woody Allen is so brilliant that words could not do it justice. I am 18 years old and a huge chaplin fan and people who have not seen Chaplins work before should definitley see this one as their first chaplin experience. Chaplin once said that out of all his movies, he would like The Gold Rush for which he would be most remembered, however many would agree that City Lights is a huge contender for Gold Rush!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr. C. Moore on 30 Aug 2010
Format: DVD
Long before the Romantic Comedy genre developed the stifling limitations it labours under now, Charlie Chaplin directed this wonder.

No self-assured, handsome, and above all rich hero here. The plot is entirely driven by the heroine's assumption that The Little Tramp is a wealthy man and owner of an expensive automobile, and much of the film is taken up by TLT's attempts to live up (or down) to this assumption. Trying to earn, beg or borrow the money to clear the heroine's back rent and buy her an operation to recover her sight brings him into many comic situations (including the hilarious and brilliantly choreographed boxing scene).

But TLT's love is an unselfish one, for the operation he intends to buy her will also expose the truth about himself and bring almost certain rejection and humiliation. Elsewhere in the film, wealth and the wealthy are given short shrift. Check out the alcoholic millionaire who is friendless and can only relate when he is drunk. How Chaplin resolves TLT's dichotomy in the final scene is as elegant as it is moving and satisfying.

This film is B&W and silent (something Chaplin insisted upon, even though he could have made a talkie) and is a perfect example of how narrative can be driven without dialogue.

City Lights won't change your life. But as a depiction of how love can transcend social and physical barriers, and how money can both create and destroy, it is unequalled.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By schumann_bg TOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Mar 2012
Format: DVD
City Lights is a brilliant example of Chaplin's art and the sentimentality is all part of it. I think he brings it off amazingly and really shows that sentimentality can be a very good thing - far better than the modern 'I'm no one's fool' cynicism. There is a knowingness that the media has brought about that has made this kind of feeling very unfashionable, but it is our loss, because the grace of the flower-seller and her scenes with Chaplin are sublime. Equally the rich man's travails show how the link between money and happiness is by no means clearcut, even though his money allows the flower-girl's sight to be restored in the end. So the ironies are true to life ... However this is secondary to what makes the film so magical, which is the comic brilliance and timing of Chaplin himself, and his invention in all the set pieces, whether the ball he attends with the rich man, where his spaghetti gets caught up with the streamers, he sets someone on fire, dances like a whirling dervish, smokes a cigar from the wrong end - all things which might have been misses but which, in his hands, hit the mark spectacularly. The boxing sequence is the most inspired comic sequence ever to have been filmed, I think, its balletic absurdity underscored by an ineffable sadness at the harshness of life - and what the pure of heart may go through for unseen motives. The music is all from Chaplin's pen, which is amazing too. It seems to me that silent film at its best speaks to us directly and hasn't dated nearly as much as most of the films from the 40s and 50s. In a sense Chaplin was right to resist language because it got in the way - at least for thirty years or so. But these silent masterpieces are truly timeless.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Stewart on 25 Sep 2003
Format: DVD
This is a masterpiece and one can't help wonder if those who accuse it of being overly sentimental really have a heart. This is a film with so many emotions and dimensions: Joy, fear, sorrow, laughter, excitement...but most of all beauty.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 July 2000
Format: VHS Tape
City Lights, made in 1931, took Charlie over two years to complete, but it was worth it! This film sees the tramp in love with a blind flower girl, Chaplin tries to raise the money to pay for her eye operation but in trying to do so leads to many funny mishaps and mistakes. City Lights is a legend in it's own right and one of Charlie's best without doubt. The master of the silver screen brings you his genius as in all his other feature length films, and it is that genius that makes this movie amazing! A MUST buy!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Aug 2003
Format: DVD
First of all, before I talk about the brilliance of this movie, I should like to make one thing clear. Jean Harlow is NOT in this movie. How her name got on the cast list I don't know. Now, as far as the movie goes, this 1931 Chaplin masterpiece stands as one of the greatest films of all time. It may not be as hilarious as "Modern Times" or "The Gold Rush," but "City Lights" has an absolutely perfect balance of all of the elements that make up the genius of Charlie Chaplin. Some call it overly sentimental, but I believe that many people mistake anything that succeeds in being a deeply moving experience for something that is "gooey." If you appreciate film as a device for communicating the emotions of humanity, than you will not do much better than "City Lights."
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